DIY Flavored Vodka

Homemade flavored vodka. Makes delicious cocktails! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comIt has been YEARS since I made my own DIY flavored vodka.  I made it for a children’s party…you know, because sometimes those kinds of parties make you drink. Of course the kids didn’t have any.  But the adults sure did.  Ok, well I’m sure I wasn’t the only one drinking it. I am not trying to suggest my friends are lushes. But when you are watching chocolate cupcake get ground in to your area rug by a toddler shoe, it makes you want to drink something.

Make your own orange infused vodka.  Works with other fruits and herbs too! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThis time I decided to make orange infused vodka. Doesn’t that sound amazing!? I didn’t really follow a recipe as this is very forgiving.  My kind of DIY.

DIY infused vodka.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI started with a clean mason jar.  I poured in some vodka.  Then I used a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the navel orange, being careful not to get too much of the bitter white pith just below. I put the peel in the vodka and put the lid on.  I gave it a nice little shake and then placed it in my pantry for about 4 days, making sure to give it a little shakey shakey at least once a day. Stronger flavors (like herbs) won’t take as long to infuse.  Fruits generally take 4-7 days.  It is suggested that you taste it each day to see if it is the flavor you want.  But here’s the thing with that. You are tasting straight alcohol. So no matter how much it is “infused” it is still going to taste pretty terrible, no? So this is not a good method for me. I like things on the bolder side anyway so I always err on the side of too strong rather than too weak.

Make your own homemade infused vodka.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWhen you think the flavors are how you want them use a coffee filter and funnel to strain it in to a new clean jar.  I stored my finished vodka in the refrigerator but I have read that you can also store them in the freezer to keep for an extra month.  I don’t make a ton of one flavor at a time so that I can try out different flavors and see how they work in my favorite drinks. I have heard that you can flavor the vodka with things like candy, but I think I’ll stick to herbs and fruit.

DIY flavored vodkas. This one is infused with orange and is amazing in a Moscow Mule! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI LOVED how this turned out. I used this DIY orange flavored vodka in a specialty cocktail (recipe tomorrow!) and then in my fave Moscow Mules instead of the plain vodka.  It was a perfect switcharoo! You can infuse other liquors, not just vodka.  The possibilities are nearly endless! Have you ever done this?  What did you flavor your vodka with?

 

Parmesan Zucchini Recipe and the Pompeian Pledge

Parmesan Zucchini.  Makes a great side dish.  Super tasty! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThis is one of my favorite vegetable side dishes ever.  I remember my mom calling me a few years ago and telling me I had to make this Parmesan Zucchini recipe.  So I did and it has become a staple in our diet.  It is super easy and it is total comfort food and I think you need to have this in your recipe box too. This post is sponsored by Pompeian.  August is National Olive Oil month and Pompeian is encouraging you all to take the Pompeian Pledge, where you swap butter for olive oil in your everyday recipes.  At first I didn’t get it.  I couldn’t figure out why this would be a campaign.  But then I realized that I basically took that pledge 7 years ago.  When my oldest son was diagnosed with food allergies, I had to teach myself how to cook in an entirely new way.  Because of the milk protein allergy, butter was out.  So I only used olive oil in my cooking and other oils in my baking. Olive oil is the only thing I saute with and I even use it to finish a sauce with, in place of butter. I am glad to share a favorite recipe with you and have you maybe learn a different way to do things in the kitchen. 
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Parmesan Zucchini recipe.  It is super simple and a great side dish! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThis recipe uses only a few ingredients but they are flavorful. Zucchini and sweet onion, some garlic, and of course some (a lot) of parmesan cheese.  I was excited to try out this OlivExtra blend from Pompeian which is expeller pressed safflower Oil infused with extra virgin olive oil. This oil is really great for sauteing due to its high smoke point.  The expeller pressed method means that the oil is extracted without the use of chemicals (yeah!) and it is naturally gluten-free and non allergenic (yeah!).

Prepare your veggies so they are all ready to cook. That way I don't get distracted and burn something while I am chopping something else.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI like to get all my ingredients ready before I start any cooking.  I’m not suggesting that you too may be easily distracted, but one too many times I have tried to start cooking the onions, only to find them burning while I am trying to slice my zucchinis.  Trust me, it’s better this way.

Pompeian OlivExtra - blend of Safflower and Olive Oil.  Take the Pompeian Pledge and use olive oil in place of butter in your dishes!  #sponsored // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comEven though I use olive oil instead of butter in all my cooking, I was excited to learn that there might be better oils for me to use based on what I am preparing.  I’ve never had safflower oil in my kitchen before and really liked it. It is high in Omega 9 monounsaturated fats (I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what that is but it sounds super important) and is a good source of Vitamin E.  Pompeian also sells a grapeseed oil which I totally have to get and try now too.

Pompeian OlivExtra, a blend of Safflower and Olive Oil is perfect for sauteeing veggies thanks to its high smoke point.  #sponsored // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI make this parmesan zucchini recipe as a side dish on nights when I am making a pretty simple protein.  During the school year, I tend to bake a lot of chicken.  It can get boring so the side dishes really need to shine.  The whole family loves this one and I know your family will too.  Start by adding the safflower/olive oil blend to the pan.

Sautee onions in a blend of Safflower oil and Olive Oil for a really high smoke point. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comSoften the onions, stirring often to prevent browning. When almost cooked through, add the minced garlic and give it a quick stir.

Sautee zucchini with onions and garlics to create a delicious side dish! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAdd your sliced zucchini to the pan and give it all a stir so the zucchini can get coated in the oil.  Then try to spread the zucchini out in to a single layer as much as you can to try to ensure even cooking.  Just do your best here, some always cook way faster than the others. Total overachievers. 

Top sauteed zucchini with shredded parmesan cheese.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWhen the zucchini is just about ready, top with large amounts of parmesan cheese. 

Cover you pan to help the parmesan cheese melt faster.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comToss a lid on your pan to help in the melting of said cheese.  And plate when melted through. 

Easy Sauteed zucchini recipe.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comSo yum!  The garlic and onion add so much flavor to the otherwise pretty boring zucchini (Sorry zucchini.  No hard feelings right?) FYI, this is also really great reheated for lunch the next day.  Or breakfast.  

pompeian logoSo go take the pledge! Visit the Pompeian Facebook page to pledge!  1,000 fans who sign up will be randomly selected to win free movie redemption codes or bottles of olive oil.  Plus every week, 5 other fans will win a Pompeian prize package.  Throughout the month of August, Pompeian is partnering with movie theaters across the country to swap the butter on the popcorn with olive oil! Not sure what the conversion between butter and olive oil is?  Check out this handy chart

Sauteed zucchini with onions and garlic and finished with parmesan cheese.  #sponsored // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI just know you are going to love this recipe.  The idea for this recipe is not one I came up with.  I did however come up with my own measurements as this recipe was told to me over the phone in a very vague way.  It is never my intention to not give credit where credit is due. If you know the creator of this recipe I will gladly add their info, so please pass it along to me!

Parmesan Zucchini Recipe and the Pompeian Pledge

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP plus 1 tsp (reserved) Pompeian OlivExtra Safflower Oil infused with Olive Oil
  • 1/2 sweet white onion, chopped
  • 3 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese (or more, or less - the choice is yours)
  • Maldon sea salt, to finsh

Instructions

  1. Prepare your veggies first, chop your onion, slice your zucchini (trying to make the slices a similar size so they cook evenly) and crush your garlic.
  2. In a large skillet, add 1 TBSP Safflower Oil infused with Olive Oil and heat.
  3. Add onion and cook until softened.
  4. Add crushed garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add zucchini and stir to coat. If needed, add an additional 1 tsp of oil.
  6. Spread zucchini out to as close to a single layer as you can.
  7. Stir often to prevent the onions and garlic from burning and to rotate the zucchini.
  8. When zucchini are cooked through but not soggy, add parmesan cheese.
  9. Cover the pan with a lid to help the cheese to melt through.
  10. Once cheese is melted, serve immediately.
  11. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt to finish.
  12. Serves about 4. (or 1 - don't judge me)
http://www.cupcakesandcutlery.com/parmesan-zucchini-recipe-pompeian-pledge/

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pompeian.

Taste of Nature Tasting Party #realtastesgood

6 yummy varieties of the @tasteofnature bars!  #sponsored #realtastesgood #CleverGirls // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comHow exciting for you!! This is the first sneak peek of the fun creative retreat Lauren and I put together in Palm Springs a few weeks ago!  I can’t wait to share the rest of it with you!  This year’s retreat took place in a private home and we knew we would need to have snacks for the girls.  It’s always so hard to please everyone but we knew that since we would all be in bathing suits most of the weekend, the girls would want something healthy, but delicious, and super easy to eat throughout our busy itinerary. Taste of Nature bars proved to be the perfect snacking option!  We decided to welcome everyone to our fun, inspiring weekend with a little tasting party.

@tasteofnature are perfect road trip snacks and to have on hand for girl's weekends! #sponsored #realtastesgood #CleverGirls // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comA good hostess always knows exactly what she is serving to her guests.  My co-host Lauren and I sampled them on the way to Palm Springs.  These bars are the perfect road trip food.  They are sweet, thanks to the dried fruits (but with no artificial sweeteners and are under 200 calories), crunchy (they use whole nuts and other quality ingredients) and are certified organic and vegan and non-gmo.  That’s a good snack! I plan on keeping one in my purse so I always have a healhty snack option when running around with my boys.

@tasteofnature tasting party #sponsored #realtastesgood #CleverGirls // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWe set up a little display of the Taste of Nature bars.  We made sure the girls knew that there were plenty for them all weekend long and to remember which flavors they loved for later.

Chit chatting with friends at a @tasteofnature tasting party. #sponsored #realtastesgood #CleverGirls // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThe girls arrived and began getting to know each other (we had 8 people total and for some, it was the first time meeting each other!). As the weekend was cocktail themed, we made sure that the bar was set up when they got there, but most gals wanted to try out the bars and make sure they had a little something in their stomachs before imbibing.

Friends at my @tasteofnature tasting party. #sponsored #realtastesgood #CleverGirls // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMost of the girls hadn’t heard of the Taste of Nature bars before so they took their time reading the packaging and learning about the brand.  And of course trying all the different flavors. Locally, I can find Taste of Nature bars at Mother’s Market and Wholesome Choice.  To find them at a natural-focused store near you visit their store locator.

@tasteofnature tasting party in Palm Springs.  #sponsored #realtastesgood #CleverGirls // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comEveryone picked their favorite flavors.  Mine was California Almond Valley.  So good!

@tasteofnature tasting party. #sponsored #realtastesgood #CleverGirls // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comTammy liked the maple.

DIY Painted Paddle Ball for my @tasteofnature tasting party. #sponsored #realtastesgood #CleverGirls // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWe set out some DIY painted smash ball sets for the girls to play with in between snack bars.

@tasteofnature tasting party. #sponsored #realtastesgood #CleverGirls // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThese bars were awesome and I’m glad I got to share them with my creative ladies! Taste of Nature believes that #RealTastesGood and keeps their products free from artificial flavors, fillers and chemicals. Shouldn’t everyone have that mission when creating products?  They should. But all snacks are not created equal. The bars come in 6 flavors and cost about $1.99 per bar. We sent some of the leftover bars home with each girl so she had a healthy snack option when she got home.

Thank you Taste of Nature for providing snacks for our retreat!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Patron Mojito Recipe

Patron Mojito. I'm a fan of a regular mojito but with my new found love of tequila, this is amazing. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.com*I was sent a bottle of Patron Silver Tequila to use for this post. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.  My opinion is that I really enjoy tequila.  Not in an over-indulgey kind of way. More of a connoiseur-y way.

If you are a regular reader you are probably like, what the heck is up with all these cocktail posts lately, Sharon?  Well, I just got finished with my creative retreat blogger weekend that I plan with Lauren every year.  The theme this year was cocktails (how to make them, recipes, etc. not just straight up drinking them spring break style) so I’ve been in full on cocktail mode.  I was looking for recipes that could be signature drinks for the weekend as well as easy to make recipes so the girls could make their own.  Of course a mojito had to be on the list.  And we did it with a little twist – a Patron mojito recipe, with Patron Silver instead of rum.  And it was yummy!

Patron Silver Tequila  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI felt really bad using Patron in a mixed drink.  It is so good on its own.  This is not a tequila that needs other things to mask how it really tastes.  This should have been used for straight up shots but well, we’re ladies (most of the time) and shots, during the day, would have been uncivilized (No one has seen any photos right?  If there are no photos it didn’t happen…).

Patron Mojito Recipe // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comA mojito is super simple to make and uses fresh mint and lime which are two of my favorite flavors ever.  And club soda.  I LOVE club soda.  You will often find me drinking a virgin mojito during the summer months. I find it so refreshing. But you have to use club soda in a mojito.  Never lemon lime soda.  Don’t be a hillbilly. 

Limes and mint for the perfect mojito.  This one with Patron tequila!  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMMMmmmm, I can almost smell the fresh lime and mint through the screen.  Muddling really helps to release the juice and oils so the drink is flavorful.  If you don’t have a muddle you could try using the back of the spoon.  But you really should get yourself a muddler. 

Patron Mojito Recipe // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThere it is in all its glory.  The Patron mojito.  It is a classic flavor combination but with the tequila undertones.  Yum.  Refreshing.  Perfect for summer nights. Of course if you have people over and they prefer rum in theirs, its cool.  You can just “unfriend” them after they go home. 

Patron Mojito Recipe //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd there is something about the fresh mint that is at once relaxing and puts you in a vacation-y mood. 

Patron Mojito Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz Patron Silver
  • 1 cut lime
  • 1 oz simple syrup (if you like that sort of thing)
  • Club Soda
  • 6-8 fresh mint leaves
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a tall glass, muddle mint leaves, lime and simple syrup (if using).
  2. Add a cup of ice, Patron Silver and top with club soda.
  3. Stir gently.
  4. Garnish with lime wedge.
  5. Recipe via Patron: http://patrontequila.com/drinks/search?q=mojito
http://www.cupcakesandcutlery.com/patron-mojito-recipe/

Patron tequila.  For shots or a fresh take on a mojito.  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThank you for supporting the brands, like Patron, that let me bring you cocktail recipes without going in to debt.  Because debt sucks.

Need another twist on a mojito, try a Coke-jito.

Mexican Caprese Tostada Recipe

Easy Mexican inspired appetizer.  .. www.cupcakesandcutlery.comSo yum. This summer I have probably eaten my body weight in tomatoes.  I just can’t stop.  I usually eat them with a drizzle of my fave extra virgin olive oil and some basil.  Or with a little mozzarella in standard caprese form. But on my recent trip to Loreto, Mexico I found this sort of Mexican inspired caprese tostada on one of the buffets at Villa del Palmar Loreto.  And I knew I had to recreate it at home.  It is super easy and totally delicious. And probably has its own name but I don’t know what it is. 

Tequila shots and tostadas in Loreto, Mexico at @villadelparmarl  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThe shot above was from dinner one night at The Market Restaurant at Villa del Palmar.  The ingredients were fresh, the cheese was a touch salty and the crunch of the tortilla added the perfect texture.  Of course the tequila shot wasn’t bad either. 

Loreto, Mexico Baja California.  The view from @villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd when this was your view, you want to keep trying to recreate memories from here for as long as you can!  I will be sharing my full trip soon, I promise! 

Ingredients for a Mexican inspired caprese tostada recipe //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comYou could easily make your own tostada shells at home by frying your own tortillas.  But I am clumsy and afraid of hot, angry oil so I bought them, ready-made, from the store.  And these Mexican cheeses are pretty readily available in all of my markets so they shouldn’t be too hard to find.  Then it’s just fresh cilantro and Roma tomatoes.

Mexican style caprese salad on a tostada inspired by my recent trip to Loreto, Mexico! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThe cotija cheese is salty and the crema is tangy like sour cream.  The fresh flavors of the tomato and cilantro are bold and wonderful.  And who doesn’t love a giant tortilla chip?  If this was a cooking show, now would be the time when I take a huge bite and then try to still have manners while talking with your mouth full and let out an exaggerated, “Mmmmmmmmmm.”

Cucumber margarita with Tajin is perfect with this Mexican caprese tostada. //www.cupcakesandcutlery.comIt would go perfect with a margarita.  Just saying. 

Easy appetizer idea for Mexican food.  Mexican caprese tostada recipe.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI just know you are going to love these.  These are a great light snack or accompaniment to tacos, etc.  I bet you could even add some scrambled eggs to it and make it a breakfast treat. Can’t wait to share my Mexican adventure with you soon!

Mexican Caprese Tostada Recipe

Ingredients

  • Pre-made tostada shell (or make your own with corn tortillas)
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tsp Mexican crema

Instructions

  1. Slice Roma tomatoes in to rounds.
  2. On top of the tostada shell, place tomato slices, cotija cheese and cilantro.
  3. Using a spoon, drizzle on some crema.
  4. Amounts listed above would make between 1-2 tostadas. Increase amounts to make more!
http://www.cupcakesandcutlery.com/mexican-caprese-tostada-recipe/